Oh gods, I can't tell you how much I love this author! Every book is like pure gooey chocolaty indulgence!
Banquet of Lies is all about delicious food and strong women. In fact, you can always bet that Michelle Diener will write about a score of strong, admirable, brave women in her historical fiction. This is just how she rolls, ladies and gents.
Add to it Napoleonic era and a big spying intrigue, and you'll be as hooked as I am. Banquet of Lies is a continuation of The Emperor's Conspiracy in some aspects (there are interconnected characters), but mostly it's its own story.
Giselle Barrington is a folklorist and a superb cook, and she is trudging all over Europe with her dad, who under guise of his folklore studies works with The British against Napoleon.
When he is killed, she flees with an important document and tries to lie low back in England until she can figure out who is the traitor.
She manages to hire herself as a French chef in the house of Lord Aldridge, and while she is unable to stay away from sorting out the whole household, it's Aldridge who is completely enamored with the magical meals he is getting and the captivating woman who cook them for him. Giselle is full of secrets and she does not know who to trust, but her time is running out while her enemies are getting closer to finding her.
This is historical fiction, so the rules of historical romance do not apply. Both Aldridge and Giselle are lovely characters, but their feeling for each other are secondary to the mystery of Banquet of Lies and to how skillfully Michelle Diener is playing it out.
Wholly recommended, gorgeous and clever spy fiction with layered characters, do read it!